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School District Moves Ahead With Tentative Nuclear Tax Deal

OSWEGO, NY – On Wednesday night, the Oswego City School District held the first of two public hearings regarding the proposed tax agreement with Constellation Energy Nuclear Group, owner of Nine Mile Point units I and II.

Some school district representatives, their lawyers and representatives of Constellation showed up.

Prior to the start of the public hearing, Joseph Shields, an attorney representing the district in this matter, explained the reason for the hearing.

“The law in New York State requires that all real property be taxable, unless there is some exemption that governs or a property qualifies for,” Shields said. “Real Property Tax Law 485 provides a real property tax exemption for nuclear power electric generating facilities.

Nine Mile one and Nine Mile 2 are facilities that previously qualified for this exemption, he explained.

“It is our understanding that they currently qualify for the exemption going forward. So, the issue for this public hearing is whether the board of education should adopt a resolution that authorizes the Real Property Tax Law 485 exemption within its boundaries.

The school board, as well as the town and county, have negotiated with the company over the proposed terms and conditions of a tax agreement.

“Those negotiations have not been concluded. But, we want to hear what the public thinks about the concept of whether or not this exemption should be authorized within the school district boundaries,” Shields said.

“And, with that I would open the floor to anyone from the public who would like to speak about what Mr. Shields just explained,” said Superintendent Bill Crist.

However, no one from the public attended and the meeting adjourned about a minute after it was called to order.

The school district is actually conducting a pair of hearings.

Wednesday’s was to consider exempting the nuclear plants from being placed on the tax roll.

The second public hearing is slated for 6 p.m. Dec. 13 in the Board Room at the Education Center. It’s focus will be on the tax agreement.

“As soon as the agreement is supplied to me, it will be posted on our website,” said District Clerk William Foley.

Under the tentative pact, the district would receive $24 million next year, about $24.5 in 2013 and close to $25 million the following year.

Oswego City School District School Board President John Dunsmoor said recently it appears to be a fair deal.

Proponents also point out that the amount goes up each year, instead of declining as with the previous payment in lieu of taxes program.

Oswego County Administrator Phil Church said at this week’s legislature meeting that the previous deal was 10 years; the three-year deal will make it easier to renegotiate quickly should economic conditions warrant.

The payments would be equivelant to what Constellation would be paying if the plants were on the tax rolls, Church added.